Q&A with Svetlana Papazov

Q&A with Svetlana Papazov


Dr. Svetlana Papazov is a
wife, mother, church planter, entrepreneur, educator and executive coach. Pulling from
her diverse experience in small business, academia and ministry, she launched Real Life Church, a marketplace church that integrates faith and entrepreneurship. Svetlana is also founder and CEO of Real Life Center for Entrepreneurial and Leadership Excellence in Richmond, Virginia. Her passion
is whole-life discipleship, and she deeply cares about the holistic development of communities to shape world influencers and work toward culture transformation.

Q: What are leadership skills that you believe translate to all vocations—not just ministry, but any leadership role? Have you found you use the same set of skills or similar approaches in business and ministry? 01

There are two leadership skills that I consider of particular importance to success in business or church: vision and inspired action.

Before leaders can take their followers into the future, they must envision the future. When an entrepreneur starts a business, they must picture the mature business in full, and then reverse-engineer it. Otherwise, their business is only going to confirm the statistic that 90 percent of small businesses fail in the first five years of being a startup.20

Vision is also especially important to the pastor and the success of their church. Without a God-breathed, clear vision for the church’s DNA—its unique place in the global body of Christ, growth structure
and supporting systems—the local church may also find itself becoming a grim statistic.
Just as important as envisioning the future is taking divinely inspired action toward that future. Leaders must sometimes be willing to become unpopular until their model is proven, boldly taking risks as they put structures and systems in place to ensure the success of their venture

Q: What are some basic business skills you think pastors sometimes neglect or do not see as essential to leading a ministry? How can the next generation of pastors receive more well-rounded preparation? 02

A successful business owner asks, “Who is my ideal client?” so that their business can serve that demographic in the best possible way. Pastors may feel awkward asking, “Who is our target audience? Who does our church want to reach?” It feels limiting. But the reality is that if a church takes time to discover where God has positioned them and how their passions address the problems around them, they will have discovered the work that the Holy Spirit has prepared them to do.

Another important business skill for ministry leaders is finding creative revenue streams. Pastors will elevate their churches if they are open to considering innovative ways of achieving sustainability and generating funds, in addition to the congregants’ tithes and offerings. What if pastors served their communities better by renting out building space that stays empty most of the week for entrepreneurial training, holiday events, continued education programs, corporate retreats or office use? And what if in doing so they created familiarity with people who otherwise would never step inside their buildings? It is a win-win situation: reaching new demographics and generating funds for more missional work. Pastors may feel that strategizing about “making money” taints their mission but, just like a business, a church requires fiscal viability to carry out transformational activities. The next generation of pastors will benefit from taking both leadership and business classes in order to receive more comprehensive preparation to pastor a 21st-century church.

Q: Why do you believe so strongly in the connection between worship and the workplace? 03

In my own experience in reaching and serving entrepreneurs, I observe firsthand the growing disconnect between faith and the marketplace, especially among small business owners and the church. Not because entrepreneurs are not looking for spirituality, but because they feel that the church has become irrelevant to them or doesn’t understand their struggles. Pastors often shy away from preaching about business and the good that it does for our society. In addition, some business owners remain skeptical of the church, assuming that if pastors reach out to them, they are only interested in their monetary support for the church’s projects.

I believe that God is the God of all life, and that his Word reveals the most inspiring model for thriving economies. To separate biblical principles such as creativity, just wages, human dignity and stewardship from the workplace is to set our societies up for failure. Only holistic Christianity that incorporates faith into the whole life—uniting work, ministry, worship and family—will succeed in bringing the reality of God’s presence to the professional realm. When believers engage vocation as an act of worship to God (see Col 3:23–24), they introduce the strongest work ethics into the marketplace. They become modern, Spirit-filled Bezalels (see Ex 31:1–5) who are noted for their skill and knowledge in all kinds of work, modeling righteous living in their local cultures and pointing their neighbors to hope-filled community in Christ.

Continue Reading
Back to the Study

Church Leadership

Read Section